The Misha Tractate Taanith
rom the Theodore E. Cummin
Election of Hebraica and Judai'
The Mishna Tractate
(On the Public Fasts)
Translated from the Hebrew with brief annotations
A. W. GREENUP
St. John's Hall, Highbury.
The Mishna Tractate
(On the Public Fasts)
Translated from the Hebrew with brief annotations
A. W. GREENUP
St. John's Halt, Highbury.
58, Bodney Road, London, E. 8.
I. From what time do they make mention of "the
power of rain " ? l R. Eliezer 2 says, From the first
day of the feast of Tabernacles. R. Joshua 3 says,
From the last day of that festival. R. Joshua said to
him, Since rains are only a sign of a curse on that
festival, 4 why should mention be then made of them ?
R. Eliezer answered him, I also did not say that they
should be expressly asked for, but that mention should
merely be made of them with the formula, " Who
causes the wind to blow and the rain to descend in its
season." 5 To this R. Joshua replied, If it be so, then
mention may be made throughout the year.
1 QW) niTO: The manifestation of Divine
power in sending rain : cf. Job v. 9, 10. The ex-
pression is inserted in the second (called the
Geburoth) of the eighteen benedictions.
2 b. Hyrcanus. A tanna of the second genera-
tion, and a distinguished disciple of R. Johanan
b. Zakkai, who spoke of him as " a lime cemented
cistern that does not lose a drop" (Aboth II. 10,
na^B 13NQ irXP TD 113). It is said of him that
he never spoke a word which he had not received
from his teacher (Succ. 28). As an expounder
of traditional law he became famous, and was
known as " the Great " ( VnJPi ). He was excom-
municated by the Sanhedrim for opposing the
opinion of the majority on a question of Levitical
uncleanness, and thereafter lived in retirement.
A famous saying of his is : " Let the honour of
thy friend be dear unto thee as thine own." See
further Hyman, Toledoth Tannaim ve'Amoraim,
i. pp. 161-175.
3 b. Hanania. A contemporary of R. Eliezer,
and fellow-pupil under R. Johanan b. Zakkai.
His opinions are cited one hundred and thirty
times in the Mishna, and evince him as being a
faithful observer of the Law and consistently
opposed to extravagant developments (cf. Yalkut
Shim. II. 589). A famous saying of his is : "An
evil eye, the evil nature, and hatred of mankind
put a man out of the world" (Aboth II. 15). See
further Bacher's article \njew. EncycL vii. 290, ff.
4 Cf. Succ. II. 9, and note there.
6 In the ninth benediction, known as the
" Blessing of the Years " (Ber. V. 2), the actual
prayer for rain is made at appropriate seasons,
whereas in the second mention only is made of
God's power in giving rain. The decision is
according to R. Joshua (Maimonides).
2. Requests for rain are not made except near
the time of rain. 1 R. Jehudah* says, He who acts
last as reader of the prayers on the last day of the
feast of Tabernacles makes mention of the rain, but
he who reads first does not do so 2 ; on the first
day of Passover, he who reads first makes mention of
it, but not he who reads last. 3 How long are requests
for rain made ? R. Jehudah says, Till Passover has
gone by : R. Meir 4 says, Till Nisan 5 is passed, since
it is said, And he causeth to come down for you the
rain, the former rain and the latter rain, in the first
1 That is, as R. Jehudah says, on the last day
of Tabernacles. The wind was observed for
indications of the rain by the pilgrims gazing at
the smoke of the altar ; if it inclined to the
North there would be copious rain in the coming
year ; if to the South but little and dearth would
would ensue ; if to the East all rejoiced ; if to
the West all were depressed (Yoma 2\b\ It
was said that the South winds brought no rain
after the destruction of the second Temple
(B. B. 25^). * See note 2 on p. 34.
2 There were two readers on Sabbaths and
festivals, the first reading the morning prayers,
the second the Musaf, or additional prayers.
3 That is, " Who causeth the wind to blow " is
said in the benediction of the morning service,
but not in the Musaf.
4 A tanna of the third generation, styled " the
light of the Law." Remarkable for his sympathy
with all branches of learning ; and for his tolerant
attitude towards Elisha b. Abuyah, an apostate
from Judaism (Hag. 15^). He lived up to his
motto, " Do little business, but be busied in the
Torah : and be lowly of spirit before all men "
(Aboth IV. 12 ). See Jew. EncycL viii., 432 ff.,
Hyman, op. cit., iii. 865-878.
5 The first month, Neh. ii. I, Esth. iii. 7 = pre-
exilic Abib. Babylonian Nisannu.
6 Joel ii. 23.
3. On the third day of Marheshvan 1 requests are
made for rain. 2 Rabban Gamaliel 3 says, On the
seventh day of that month, fifteen days after the
feast of Tabernacles, that the last of the Israelites
returning might reach the Euphrates. 4
1 The eighth month. Assyr. Arahsamnu. The
name is not found in the Bible.
2 In the ninth benediction orSy ~p3) : insertion
for rains applicable to the land of Israel only
(Rashi, Succ. loa).
8 A tanna of the second generation, grandson
of the Gamaliel of Acts v. 34. He terminated
the opposition between the schools of Shammai
and Hillel. " The ends he had in view were the
abolition of old dissensions, and the prevention
of new quarrels, and the restoration of unity
within Judaism " (Bacher). He introduced an
addition to the Amidah in the form of a prayer
against sectarians, and the central feature of the
Pesah Haggadah is due to him. His motto was,
" Get thee a teacher, eschew that which is doubt-
ful, and do not multiply uncertain tithes " ( Aboth
I. 16). See Jew. Encycl. v. 560, ff. ; Hyman, op.
cit., i. 310-318.
4 That those who come up from a distance to
the fast may be able throughout it to remain in
Jerusalem (Succ. 470). Those living beyond the
Euphrates were exempt from the pilgrimage
4. If the seventeenth day of Marheshvan has
come, and the rains have not come down, pious
individuals 1 commence a three days' fast, 2 on the pre-
ceding nights of which they may eat and drink. On
the fast days they are permitted to engage in work,
to wash, to anoint themselves, to put on sandals, and
to perform the duty of marriage. 3
1 DHTP Explained by R. Huna in the Gemara
to mean the rabbis. But the rabbis taught that
every young scholar should consider himself a
rabbi for the purpose of fasting (Taan. 10^), and
that whoever was considered worthy of appoint-
ment as manager of a congregation was called
a yahid (ib.). So TIT came to mean a particularly
pious individual as opposed to the many (D^tn/
cf. Mark x. 45).
2 On Monday, Thursday and the following
Monday (Maimonides, Taan. III. i).
5 Cf. I Cor. vii. 3 (TTJV ofyeiXopevyv ZVVOLCLV : v.l
5. If the first day of the month Kislev 1 has
come, and the rains have not come down, the court 2
orders three fasts 3 for the congregation, on the
preceding nights of which they may eat and drink.
On the fast days they are permitted to engage in
work, to wash, to anoint themselves, to put on sandals,
and to perform the duty of marriage.
J The ninth month, Zech. vii. i ; Neh. i. I.
2 JH fP3, the supreme court, the highest ecclesi-
astical and civil tribunal, delegated some of its
powers to the " Small Sanhedrim " (piJBp pirUD)/
which consisted of twenty-three members and
a president (N^fllB), It sat every Monday and
Thursday, these being the market-days (B. K.
3 On Monday, Thursday and the following
6. When these days are passed and no answer
to their prayers has been given, the court orders three
further fasts for the congregation, on the preceding
nights of which they may eat and drink. 1 On the
fast days they are prohibited to engage in work,
to anoint themselves, to put on sandals, and to
perform the duty of marriage ; and the bath-houses
must be closed. If these fast-days also pass without
any answer being given, the court decrees seven
further fasts ; so that there are in all thirteen for the
congregation. These seven are more serious than
the former ones, for on them the Shofar is sounded,
and the shops are closed, except that on the second
day, towards nightfall, they may open the doors
somewhat, 2 and on the fifth day still more in honour
of the Sabbath.
1 As they do on the Day of Atonement.
2 For the necessities of the poor. Only those
shops selling food are referred to, others must
remain closed (Rashi).
7. When these days are passed, and no answer
to their prayers has been given, they are to do less
business, less building l and planting, 2 less betrothing
and marrying, less mutual enquiries after health ;
refraining from these things like men excommuni-
cated in the sight of God. 3 Pious individuals begin
again to fast till the end of Nisan. If the rains come
down in Nisan it is the sign of a curse, for it is written,
Is it not wheat harvest to-day? I will call unto
Jehovah, that He may send thunder and rain ; and ye
shall know and see that your wickedness is great,
which ye have done in the sight of Jehovah, in asking
you a king. 4
1 Explained in the Gemara of the building
of a house especially for a son about to be
married (Taan. 14^).
2 " What is meant by a pleasure - garden
hv nycM) ? It means putting up a regal
banqueting tent for one's son's wedding " (ib.).
3 Like men driven out of God's presence. In
Gen. xxxvii. 10 13 ~\yx\ is rendered by Targ.
4 i Sam. xii. 17. All the texts for rain in this
chapter apply to the land of Israel only. Cf.
"There is no public fast observed in Babylon
except the ninth of Ab " (Pes. 54^) since they
have there no need of rain, and so no occasion
for proclaiming a fast (Rashi).
i. The ceremonial observed (for the last seven
fasts) is : They carry forth the ark into the open
place 1 of the town, and sprinkle fine dust over it, 2 and
on the head of the Nasi, 3 and on the head of the
president of the court 4 ; then each one puts some on
his own head. The oldest of them speaks before
them admonitions to penitence : My brethren, it is
not said of the men of Nineveh, And God saw their
sackcloth and their fast, but, And God saw their
works, that they turned from their evil way. 6 And
in the prophets 6 it says, Rend your heart and not
your garments, and turn to Jehovah your God. 7
1 Various reasons are given for this. R. Hiyyah
b. Abba says : In order that they might say, We
have prayed privately and were unanswered, so
now we humiliate ourselves publicly. Resh
Lakish says : In order that they might say, We
have been banished, may such banishment be an
expiation. R. Joshua b. Levi says : In order
that they might say, We had a hidden treasure
but it has been profaned by reason of our
iniquities (Taan. 160).
2 Maimonides says that dust was sprinkled also
over the roll of the Law (Taan. IV. i), whence it
would appear that his Mishna differed from ours.
"See Lund's note in loc. TJ? hv nmm : Cf. ei9 ras
TrXaretas, Luke x. 10 ; xiii. 26 ; xiv. 21, etc.
3 The chief of the Great Sanhedrim and of its
successors in Palestinian places. See Jew. Encycl.
ix. 171, f., and Schiirer, Jew. People in time of
Christ i. 180-184 (Eng. trans.).
4 fT JV3 3N The vice-president of the Great
Sanhedrim. See articles mentioned in the pre-
5 Jonah iii. 10.
6 r6ap3 lit. " in the Kabbalah." According to
the Rabbis the tradition passed from Moses and
Joshua to the Prophets : cf. Moed Kat. 1 1 1. 9. The
word is not used in the Mishna in the later
Hebrew meaning of " mystic lore." Rashi's gloss
is : " Every place in which the prophet com-
mands, preaches and forewarns Israel is called
Kabbalah." See Taylor, Pirqe Avoth, pp. 120, flf.
7 Joel ii. 1 3.
2. When they make ready 1 for prayer, they ap-
point to officiate 2 an old man who is conversant with
the prayers, who has sons and an empty house, 8 so
that his whole attention may be fixed on prayer. He
recites before the people the twenty-four blessings,
the eighteen used daily, 4 together with the six addi-
lit. "stand." Cf. Matt. vi. 5 ; Mark xi. 25 ;
Luke xviii. 11, 13 ; Ber. V. i.
2 mTin ifob DHniD lit. " bring down before
the ark." The ark stood in a low place, since
man must pray in humility, after Ps. cxxx. I :
" Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee."
3 A poor man. R. Hisda says : One free
4 Known as the Shemoneh Esrah (m^y rUDP),
or Amidah (nTDy) from the standing attitude
appropriate, in Jewish eyes, to prayer (cf. Luke
xviii. n). In the Mishna and earlier sources
often designated simply as Prayer (nSfin). For
history and contents see Jew. EncycL xi. 270-282.
3. And these additional ones are the Zikronoth 1
and the ShofAroth 2 ; then, I will lift up mine eyes to
the hills, etc. 3 ; To God in my distress I called, and
He answered me 4 ; Out of the depths have I called
to Thee, O Lord 5 ; A prayer of the afflicted when he
fainteth. 6 R. Jehudah says : It is not necessary to
say the Zikr6noth and the Shofardth, but one can say
instead of them, If there be in the land famine, etc. 7 ;
then, The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah
concerning the drought 8 ; after that the concluding
formula of the prayers. 9
1 The second section of the Musaf prayer for
New Year's day, healing of Divine remembrance,
beginning " Thou rememberest what was wrought
from eternity and art mindful of all that hath
been formed from of old." See Abrahams, Daily
Prayer Book, pp. cxcvii., fif.
2 The third section of the same prayer, treating
of Revelation, in which the Shofar is named
either literally, or figuratively, when God sounds
it as a call to Israel.
3 Ps. cxxi. * Ps. cxx. 6 Ps. cxxx,
6 Ps. cii. 7 I Kings viii. 37.
8 Jer. xiv.
9 Decision is after R. Jehudah (Maimonides).
4. To the first benediction x he adds : May He
who answered Abraham in mount Moriah 2 answer
you, and hearken to the voice of your cry this day.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Redeemer of Israel ! To
the second he adds : May He who answered our
fathers at the Red Sea 3 answer you, and hearken to
the voice of your cry this day. Blessed art Thou, O
Lord, who rememberest the things that are forgotten !
To the third he adds : May He who answered Joshua
in Gilgal 4 answer you, and hearken to the voice of
your cry this day. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who
hearkenest to the t'ru'Ah ! 5 To the fourth he adds :
May He who answered Samuel in Mizpah 6 answer
you, and hearken to the voice of your cry this day.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, that nearest (our) cry !
To the fifth he adds : May He who answered Elijah
in mount Carmel 7 answer you, and hearken to the
voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, O Lord,
hearer of prayer ! To the sixth he adds : May He
who answered Jonah in the fish's belly 8 answer you,
and hearken to the voice of your cry this day. Blessed
art Thou, O Lord, who answerest in the time of dis-
tress ! To the seventh 9 he adds : May He who
answered David and Solomon, his son, in Jerusalem
answer you, and hearken .to the voice of your cry this
day. Blessed be Thou, O Lord, who hast compassion
on the earth !
1 The first in the Amidah in which the inter-
polations are introduced. It is the seventh,
beginning " Look upon our affliction " (ir'Oya ilKI),
See Abrahams, op. cit., pp. Ixii., f.
2 Gen. xxii. 12, ff. 3 Cf. Exod. iii. 16. 4 Josh. v. 9.
5 The blowing of a rapid succession of three
notes on the Shofar. See my note on Succah
6 I Sam. vii. 9. 7 1 Kings xviii. 37, ff.
8 Jonah ii. 2.
9 " Although but six additional blessings are to
be said on these fast-days, yet this is called the
seventh, in respect of its being the seventh bless-
ing in which additional matter is introduced ; for
the first blessing ending ' Redeemer of Israel,' is
one of the eighteen blessings of the daily Amida "
(De Sola). See note i above. The Gemara
explains the reason for Jonah being mentioned
before Solomon and David, because the benedic-
tion to the seventh must conclude with " Blessed
be Thou, O Lord, who had compassion on the
earth " (Taan. 170), for David and Solomon
prayed for the land of Israel (2 Sam. xxi. I ;
i Kings iii. 37). Symmachos b. Joseph said that
the benediction ended " Blessed be He who
humbles the proud," referring to Solomon's
building of the Temple (i Kings viii. 13), and to
David's numbering of the people (cf. Ps. cii. 13).
5. There is a story that in the days of R. Halafta 1
and R. Hanania b. Teradion 2 that a minister officiated 3
and finished the whole of the blessing without the
people answering after him Amen. 4 He called out,
Sound the trumpets, O priests. They sounded them.
He continued, May He who answered Abraham, our
father, in mount Moriah answer you, and hearken to
the voice of your cry this day. Then he said, Sound
the tru'ah, ye sons of Aaron. They did so, and he
continued, May He who answered our fathers at the
Red Sea answer you, and hearken to the voice of
your cry this day. And when this came to the
knowledge of the sages they said, It was not our
custom to do so, except at the eastern gate and on
the Temple mount. 6
1 A tanna of the second generation and the
father of R. Jose. He was, according to Jer.
Taan. IV. 2, a descendant of Jonadab b. Rechab,
and was head of a school in Sepphoris, living
there to an advanced age (Tos. Kelim).
2 A tanna of the second generation, head of a
school in Siknin (San. 32^). A famous saying
of his is : " Two that sit together and are occupied
in the words of the Torah have the Shekinah
amongst them " (Aboth III. 3). He was martyred
in the Hadrianic persecution.
3 rDYin vsh 13J? the regular expression for
officiating at the prayers, since the leader stepped
in front of the ark wherein lay the scrolls of the
Law. R. H. IV. 7 ; Meg. IV. 3, at.
4 Cf. Deut. xxvii. 15, ff; Neh. viii. 6 ; I Chron.
xvi. 36 ; Tobit viii. 8 ; i Cor. xiv. 16. What
they said was : " Blessed be the name of his
glorious Kingdom for ever and ever," the response
made in the Temple (Tos. I. 13), where alone the
sacred name was pronounced.
5 Decision after the sages (Maimonides).
6. On the three first fasts the divisions of priests
on duty 1 fast, but not the whole day ; whilst the
division in charge of the services 2 do not fast at all.
On the second three fasts the division of priests on
duty fast completely ; whilst the division in charge of
the services fast, but not the whole day. On the last
seven fasts both classes fast completely. Such is the
opinion of R. Joshua 3 : but the sages say that on the
first three fasts neither class fasts at all : on the
second three the division of priests on duty fast, but
not the whole day ; whilst the division in charge of
the services do not fast at all : on the last seven the
division of priests on duty fast completely, but the
division in charge of the services fast, but not the
whole day. 4
The priests were divided into
twenty-four divisions (JTftDtPQ) each of which took
a week's duty in the Temple. Cf. Luke i. $
(t e<f>rjfjLpLa<s 'AySta) : and note on Sukkah
2 3N JV2 ^JK Each division was subdivided
into seven, a subdivision being called a 3K JT3
and officiating one day in the week after a regular
order. See Schiirer, op. cit, i. 216, fif.
3 See note 3 on I. i.
4 Decision after the sages (Maimonides).
7. The division of priests on duty are permitted
to drink wine at night, but not in the day ; the division
in charge of the services neither by night nor by
day. 1 The division of priests on duty and the
standing men 2 are forbidden to shave, and to wash
their linen ; but on the fifth day they are allowed
to do so on account of the respect due to the
1 See Tos. II. 2, 3. The regulations are general,
and do not relate only to the fasts.
2 "icyo IB>:N were the staff attached to the
in Jerusalem. See below IV. 2.
8. Wherever it is written in the Roll of Fasts 1
that no mourning is to be made on a certain day, it
is also prohibited on the day before, but allowed the
day after. R. Jose 2 says, Both before and after it is
prohibited. And where it is said that no fasts are to
be kept on a certain day, it is allowed to fast on
the day before and the day after. R. Jose says,
It is forbidden on the day before, but allowed
the day after.
1 rpjyn n^JD was a book containing* a list of
memorial days of joyous events on which fasting
was forbidden. The book, as we have it,
is composed partly in Aramaic, partly in
Hebrew ; and it is divided into twelve chapters,
each chapter dealing with the days of a single
2 b. Halafta (II. 5). One of R. Akiba's five
famous pupils. See Hyman, op. cit, ii. 705-713 :
and the reff. in Biichler's " Political and Social
Leaders of the Jewish Community of Sepphoris
in the Second and Third Centuries."
9. A public fast is not decreed to commence on
the fifth day of the week, in order not to cause a rise
of prices on the market ; but the three first fasts are
on the second, the fifth, and the following second
day ; and the second three fasts on the fifth, the
second, and the following fifth day. 1 R. Jose says :
As the first fasts do not begin on the fifth day, so the
second and the last fasts do not. 2
1 Cf. Didache viii. : At Se z^oTetat v
<rT(ocrav /zero, TMV viroKpirtov
yap Sevrepo, craft f3dT(ov /cat irefJUTTy u/xet? 8e
vrjo-revcrare rer/oaSa /cat Trapaa-Kevijv.
2 Decision not after R. Jose (Maimonides).
10. A public fast is not decreed on the feast of
New Moon, nor on the feast of the Dedication,
nor on Purim : but if they have begun one on these
occasions they do not break it off, according to the
opinion of Rabban Gamaliel. R. Meir says that
although Rabban Gamaliel says that they do not
break it off, yet he acknowledges that they do not
fast the whole day ; and so with the ninth of Ab,
when it happens to fall on a Friday. 1
1 Decision not after R. Meir (Maimonides).
1. The order of these fasts already mentioned l
has reference only to the failure of the first rainfall : 2
but should the sprouts degenerate, then they im-
mediately sound an alarm for them. And if there
be an interval of forty days between the rains they
sound an alarm for them, 3 because it is a calamity
which will produce dearth.
1 Mishna I. 5-7.
2 njW lit. "fructification." "Why is rain
called nyoi ? Because it fructifies (y3"i) the
ground " (Taan. 6).
3 In the Munich MSS. there is added " im-
mediately " (TD).
2. If the rains come down sufficiently for plants
but not for trees ; or for trees but not for plants ; or
copiously enough for both, but not sufficiently to fill
pits, ditches and caves, they immediately sound an
alarm for them.
3. And so of any city on which the rains have not
fallen, as it is written, And I caused it to rain upon
one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city ;
one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon
it rained not withered, 1 that city must fast and
sound the alarm ; and all the places round about
must fast but not sound the alarm. R. Akiba 2 says :
They must sound the alarm but not fast.
1 Amos iv. 7.
2 b. Joseph. Flourished c. 110-135 A.D. He
favoured the cause of Barcochba and was put
to death. As to his methods of exegesis Bacher
says : " He had the art of deducing halachoth
from every jot of the Law." Our present Mishna
is founded on his codification of the Halachah.
His famous sayings are given in Aboth III. 19-25.
It is said of him in Jer. Sota IX. 10 : " There
arose no famous scholar ( i rOPN-=U ^ntP PW
before R. Akiba, and the springs of wisdom
ceased with him." See Jew. Encycl. i. 304-310:
Hyman, op. cit., iii. 988-1008.
4. And so in a city wherein is pestilence, or
a ruined building, 1 that city must fast and sound the
alarm ; and all the places round about must fast but
not sound the alarm. R. Akiba says : They must
sound the alarm but not fast. What is a pestilence ?
When in a city, capable of bringing forth five
hundred able-bodied men, 2 three people die in three
consecutive days, this is a pestilence ; but less than
this is not a pestilence. 3
Cf. Ber. 3, "One must not enter
a ruined building for prayer because it may
2 ^n lit. " footman." " Women, children and
old men past work are excluded " (Maimonides,
Hil. Taan. II. 5).
3 The following illustration is given in the
Gemara : " A town like Ptolemais, which can
furnish fifteen hundred men and three deaths
occur on each of three consecutive days, is said
to be afflicted with pestilence ; but if all the
deaths occurred on a single day or in four days,
it is not said to be afflicted with pestilence."
5. For these things they sound the alarm in every
place, for blasting and mildew, for locusts and
caterpillars, for evil wild beasts, 1 and for armies
passing through the country ; 2 for these they sound
the alarm since they are calamities which spread
1 If they appear in the daytime in a town.
See the following Mishna.
2 Even if they be friendly armies. See Tos.
II. 10, and Maimonides Hil. Taan. II. 4 ("Armies
passing through the land of Israel, even if there
be no war between them and Israel, are a cause
of distress "). Rashi, however, thinks the refer-
ence to be to hostile armies only.
6. There is a story that some elders l went down
from Jerusalem to their own cities, and decreed a
fast, because there had been seen in Ascalon a blast-
ing of such size as would cover an oven's mouth. 2
And they also decreed a fast because wolves had
devoured two childre'n beyond Jordan. R. Jose says :
It was not because they had devoured them, but
because they were seen (in the towns).
1 Qijpj = npecrfivTepoi, (cf. Mk. xi. 27) denotes
generally the members of the Sanhedrim ; but
is also used of those members who were neither
2 TUn 'S xSoD. The simplest explanation
seems to be : a place on the ground whose
dimensions were only the size of an oven's mouth
(Maimonides). See Lund, however.
7. For these things do they sound the alarm even
on Sabbath, for a city encompassed by enemies or
by a flood ; for a ship in danger by being tossed
about on the sea. R. Jose says : It is sounded to
obtain help from men, not for prayer to God. Simeon
the Temanite l says : Even for a pestilence (shall
they sound the alarm on Sabbath). But the sages
did not agree with him in this opinion. 2
1 A tanna of the second generation, so called
because he came from Teman, a district in the
north of Edom (cf. Ezek. xxv. 13). See Frankel,
N13D p. n"'p.
2 The opinions of R. Jose and of Simeon are
not to be followed. They only fast for a pesti-
lence, not sound an alarm ; and one can cry to
God and fast without sounding an alarm for the
dangers mentioned (Maimonides).
8. For every plague (may it not befall the con-
gregation ! ) they sound the alarm, except for a
superabundance of rain. 1 There is a story that they
said to Honi, 2 the circle drawer, Pray that the rains
may come down. He said to them, Go out and
collect the Passover ovens, 3 that they may not be
softened. He prayed, but the rains did not come
down. What did he do? He drew a circle, 4 and
stood in the middle of it, and prayed : O Lord of the
universe, thy children have looked to me, since I am
accounted by them a favourite of thine ; I swear by
thy great Name that I will not move hence till Thou
have pity on thy children. The rains began to
trickle. He said, This was not what I asked Thee
for, but for enough to fill wells, cisterns, and caves.
They then fell with vehemence. He said, This was
not what I asked Thee for, but for favourable rains,
bringing blessing and good gifts. They then came
down in their usual manner, until the Israelites had
to go up from Jerusalem to the Temple-mount
because of the rains. They came and said to him,
As thou didst pray for the rains to come down, so
pray that they may cease. He said to them, Go and
see if the Stone of Losers 5 is covered up by the
waters. Simeon b. Shatah 6 sent to him and said, If
thou wert not Honi I would decree excommunication
against thee ; but what can I do to thee ? for thou
comest petulantly before God, 7 like a child who lords
it over his father, and yet he does after the child's
will. To thee may be applied the text, Thy father
and mother shall rejoice, and she who bare thee shall
1 R. Johanan says the reason is because it is
not allowed to pray for the cessation of too much
good. The Mishna applies to Israel only where
as Maimonides says (Hil. Taan. II. 15) the land
is mountainous and the houses built of stone, and
so there can hardly be too much rain. In Baby-
lon, on the other hand, the alarm is sounded for
excess (Taan. 22$).
2 ^in = 'CWag. A miracle-worker of the first
century B.C. It is related of him that whenever
he entered the Temple court it used to shine, and
that he slept for seventy years in a cave (Jer.
Taan., trans. Greenup, p. 91). The story of his
death is narrated in Josephus, Antiq. xiv. 2, I
(Whiston's trans., p. 299).
3 The ovens used to roast the paschal lamb,
which were generally made of clay and kept
outside the house when not in use.
*A common practice with magicians. Some
commentators explain the phrase miy Jj; to mean
that he dug out a circular trench and placed
himself in it that it might appear as if he were
sitting in prison.
5 D^jflBn px A very high stone in Jerusalem
on which were deposited lost articles. The finder
caused proclamation to be made in the city
TINVD n^YD, so that the loser might claim the
6 Lived in the time of King Jannaeus and Queen
Alexandra. He was one of the most formidable
opponents of magic, and at one time executed
eighty women who were guilty of its practice
(San. 44#). He was instrumental in establishing
popular schools throughout Judaea, and in restrict-
ing the number of divorces (Yer. Kat. 32^).
7 D1pDn "The Omnipresence," an epithet de-
scriptive of God, who is Absolute Space (Gen.
R. Ixviii.). Cf. Philo, De Somnns, ed. Mangey, i.,
8 Prov. xxiii. 25.
9. Should the rains come down before sunrise
whilst they are fasting, they shall not complete the
fast ; but if after sunrise, they shall complete it.
R. Eliezer says : If the rains come down before noon
they shall not complete the fast ; but if after they
shall complete it. 1 There is a story that a fast was
decreed at Lydda, and the rains came down before
noon. R. Tarphon z said to the people. Go out, eat
and drink, and make a feast day. So they went out,
ate and drank, and made a feast day ; and in the
afternoon they returned and recited the great Hallel. 3
1 Decision is after R. Eliezer (Maimonides).
2 A contemporary of R. Akiba, and possibly
to be identified with the Try pho of Justin Martyr.
He states that he officiated in the Temple (Jer.
Yoma III. 7), and told Justin that he had fled
from Palestine on account of the war (Dial. c.
Trypho, c. i.). A famous saying of his, remind-
ing us of the Parable of the Vineyard (Matt xx.
i, ff.), is : "The day is short, the task great, the
labourers idle, the reward great, and the Master
of the house urgent " (Aboth II. 19). He is said
to have favoured the views of the House of
Shammai ; and, on account of his learning, was
called " the teacher of Israel." See Hyman, op.
cit, ii. pp. 524, ff.
3 Ps. cxxxvi. So called to distinguish it from
the Hallel, Pss. cxiii.-cxviii. ; but Pss. cxx.-cxxxvi.
and Pss. cxxxv. 4 - cxxxvi. also were called
"Great Hallel." In the Gemara 2$b the
question is asked why they should not have
recited before and not after their return, and
the answer given is : " Hallel is not recited
save with a satisfied soul and a full stomach "
.(nxSo Dim nya BSJ hy N^N ^n oncix ]>)
See Box's article in Hastings' Diet. Christ and
Gospels^ s.v. Hallel.
I. Three times a year do the priests lift up their
hands (in the priestly blessing), 1 four times on one
day at the morning prayers, at the additional prayers,
at the afternoon prayers, and at the closing prayers. 2
And these three times are, on the fast days, on
the fast of the standing-men, 3 and on the Day of
1 Num. vi. 24-26.
2 onyp n^yj lit. " the closing of the gates "
hence the prayer called N'ilah. The reference is
to the closing of the Temple gates, though Rab
says it means the closing of the gates of heaven,
i.e. when darkness comes. See the discussion in
Jer. Ber. IV. 7.
3 See below, IV. 2, 3.
2. This is the origin of the ma'amadoth. 1 It is
written, Command the children of Israel and say
unto them, My offering, my bread. 2 But how can a
man's offering be presented if he stand not by it?
So the former prophets 3 instituted twenty-four guards
(mishmaroth) ; and corresponding to each guard was
a post (ma'amad) of priests, Levites, and Israelites
stationed in Jerusalem. When the time came that a
guard should go up to Jerusalem, the priests and
Levites belonging to it went up, whilst the Israelites
who belonged to that guard 4 assembled themselves in
their cities to read the story of creation. 5
1 nnoj;o "stations," or "posts." The people,
like the priests and the Levites, were divided
into twenty-four courses (nnDIPD), representatives
of which took their turn every day for a week to
stand by whilst the daily sacrifice was being
offered. See Tos. IV. 2. In Tamid V. 6 it is as-
sumed that the " head of the station " noyon t?tn>
was always present in Jerusalem.
2 Num. xxviii. 2.
3 David and Samuel.
* And who were not able to go up to Jerusalem.
5 To remind them that the world was estab-
lished for the sake of worship.
3. [The standing-men were fasting four days in
the week, from the second to the fifth day ; but they
did not fast on the eve of Sabbath on account of the
honour due to the Sabbath, nor on the Sabbath itself,
so that they should not pass from rest and enjoy-
ment to labour and fasting, and so run the danger of
death.] 1 On the first day they read the sections of
Scripture n^Ki3 and jppn 'iT ; on the second jppn W
and D^cn llp^i ; on the third D^DH llp^ and nniHD Tn ',
on the fourth nniKD TP and D^an ivi^l ; on the fifth
onsn imisp and pn Niwii ; on the sixth pxn NYin
and D^QPn iS^I. 2 A long section was read by two
persons, a short one by one, in the morning and
additional prayers ; but at the afternoon prayers they
assemble and recite the passages by heart 3 as they do
the Shema. 4 On Friday they do not assemble at the
afternoon prayers on account of the honour due to
1 The passage in brackets is omitted in many
MSS., including the Cambridge MS. add. 470, I
(ed. Lowe) and both Munich MSS., and in some
of the printed editions. It is not in the Jerusalem
2 These passages are in Gen. i. I ii. 4.
3 The reciting by heart is here mentioned as
an exception, the rule being that the Torah must
be read from its scroll (cf. Meg. II. I, in respect
to the book of Esther).
4 The Shema consists of Deut. vi. 4-9, xi. 13-21,
Num. xv. 37-41, and obtains its name from the
opening words h^W yetp, cf. Mark xii. 29. It
is not a prayer, properly so speaking, but a
confession of belief, and so the reciting of it
(yep nNnp) is spoken of, a custom attributed by
Josephus (Antiq. iv. 8, 13 : Whiston, p. 96) to
the command of Moses. See Vitringa, De
Synagoga, pp. 1052-1061.
4. Every day on which the Hallel 1 is sung there
is no attendance at morning prayer by the standing-
men. When there was an additional offering they
were not in attendance at the closing prayers. When
there was a wood offering 2 they were not in attendance
at afternoon prayers. These are the words of R.
Akiba ; but Ben Azzai 3 said to him, Thus was R.
Joshua teaching : When there was an additional offer-
ing they were not in attendance at afternoon prayers ;
when a wood offering, not at the closing prayers.
R. Akiba changed his view, and taught like Ben Azzai.
1 Pss. 113-118. See note on III. 9. The
Hallel was sung on Passover night, on Pentecost,
on the Feast of Tabernacles, and on the eight
days of Hanukah (Tos. Succ. III. 2).
2 See below IV. 5.
3 A tanna of the second generation, his full
name being Simeon b. Azzai. According to
Hag. 14^ he was one of four men who "went up
into Paradise," i.e. indulged in speculative philo-
sophy, with disastrous results in the case of all
but Akiba, who "went into Paradise in peace
and came down in peace." See Jew. EncycL ii.
672, f. ; Taylor, op. cit, p. 79 n. 5.
5. Nine days are appointed for the priests and
the people to bring wood for the altar. On the first of
Nisan the family of Arah b. Jehudah 1 bring it ; on the
twentieth of Tamrnuz the family of David b. Jehudah 2 ;
on the fifth of Ab the family of Perosh b. Jehudah 3 ;
on the seventh the family of Jonadab b. Rechab 4 ; on
the tenth the family of Sinah b. Benjamin 5 ; on the
fifteenth the family of Zatu b. Jehudah, 6 and with
them the priests and Levites who had forgotten from
which tribe they were descended, and also the family
of Gonebe Eli 7 and that of Kotsi Ketsioth 8 ; on the
twentieth the family of Pahath Moab b. Jehudah 9 ; on
the twentieth of Elul the family of Adin b. Jehudah ;
on the first of Tebeth the family of Perosh for the
second time. On the first of Tebeth there was no
attendance of the standing-men, for then the Hallel
was sung and there was an additional offering and a
1 Cf. Ezra ii. 5 ; Neh. vii. 10. 2 Cf. Ezra viii. 2.
8 Cf. Ezra ii. 3, viii. 3, x. 25 ; Neh. iii. 25,
vii. 8, x. 15.
4 Cf. 2 Kings x. 15, 23 ; Jer. xxxv. 8 ; I Chron.
5 Cf. Ezra ii. 35 ; Neh. iii. 3, vii. 38.
Cf. Ezra ii. 8, x. 27 ; Neh. vii. 13, x. 15.
78 See Tos. IV. 7 where these names are
explained (as in Taan. 280 ; Jer. Taan. IV. 4).
9 Cf. Ezra ii. 6, viii. 4, x. 30 ; Neh. iii. 1 1, vii. 1 1,
10 Cf. Ezra ii. 15, viii. 6; Neh. vii. 20, x. 17.
It may be noted that the wood of the olive and
that of the vine were not allowed to be brought
(Tamid II. 3). In the Book of Jubilees xxi. 12
it is forbidden to bring any other but these
woods: cypress, bay, almond, fir, pine, cedar,
savin, fig, olive, myrrh, laurel, aspalathus.
6. Five calamities befell our fathers on the seven-
teenth of Tammuz, and five on the ninth of Ab. On
the former the tables of the Law were broken, 1 the
daily offerings ceased,* and the City was broken into,
Apostomos 8 burnt the Torah and set up an image in
the Temple. On the latter it was decreed that our
fathers should not enter Palestine, 4 the first and second
Temples were destroyed, Bethar 6 was captured, and
the City was ploughed over. 6 From the time when
Ab begins rejoicing must be lessened.
1 This is deduced from Exod. xxiv. 16, where
by the seventh day is to be understood the
seventh of Sivan, when the ten commandments
were given. As Moses was on the mount for
forty days (ib. xxiv. 18), he would descend on the
seventeenth of Tammuz, when he broke the
tables (Taan. 28^).
z Josephus, Bell. Jud. VI. 2, 1 ( Whiston, p. 598).
Cf. Dan. viii. 11-13 x ' 3 1 x "- !I > w ^ tn Driver's
notes ad loc.
8 His identity is unknown. Kohler suggests
that D1DBD12N may be a corruption of DUEBDN, a
Hebraized form of Stephanos, the name, given
by Josephus, of the soldier who burned the scroll
of the Law. Jastrow thinks it may be a popular
corruption of aTroerroXo?, cf. 2 Mace. vi. I (Lex.
p. 101). Ginzberg identifies him with Antiochus
Epiphanes, "of whom, moreover, it is known
also, from other sources, that he set up an idol
in the Temple."
4 Num. xiv. i, ft.
6 A large city in Benjamin, near Jerusalem
(Eusebius, Hist. IV. 6).
6 Cf. Jer. xxvi. 18 ; Micah iii. 12.
7. During the week in which the ninth of Ab falls
it is forbidden to shave and to wash one's clothes ; but
on the fifth day these are allowed on account of the
honour due to the Sabbath. On the day preceding
the ninth of Ab no one may eat two dishes, nor eat
flesh, nor drink wine. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel l
says that it is enough to alter somewhat one's ordinary
way of living. R. Jehudah 2 says that it is obligatory
to place the mattresses on the floor 3 ; but the sages
do not agree with him. 4
1 Grandson of Rabban Gamaliel I. (Acts v. 34).
Simeon was a tanna of the third generation and
father of Jehudah ha-Nasi. He escaped from
Bethar in Bar-Cochba's revolt, and after the
death of Hadrian became head of the academy
at Jamnia. He was noted for his wide learning
in science and philosophy. A famous saying
of his is : " On three things the world stands,
Judgment, Truth, and Peace " (Aboth 1. 19). See
Hyman, op. cit., iii., pp. 1163-1171.
2 b. Ilai'. A tanna of the third generation, and
a pupil of R. Akiba. In the Mishna he is called
simply R. Jehudah, and must not be confused
with R. Jehudah ha-Nasi who is there called
Rabbi. His eloquence gained for him the title
of " Chief of the Speakers " (Dnnon m).
Contrary to the edict of Hadrian he was ordained,
and had to flee the country, returning after three
years to Usha, where he attained a prominent
position. As an expounder of the Law his
opinions carried great weight. Most of the Sifra
is attributed to him. He was a man of piety and
lived an ascetic life,supporting himself by following
a trade. Amongst his famous sayings are : " He
who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him,
as it were, robbery " (Kid. 2.ga] ; " Labour is an
honour to every man " (Ned. 49^). See Hyman,
op. cit., ii., pp. 534-542.
3 As a sign of mourning, and so sleep on the
ground (Moed. Kat. 15^). See, however, Jew.
Encycl. ix. 102.
4 Neither the opinion of Rabban Simeon nor
that R. Jehudah is to be followed (Maimonides).
8. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel said : Israel had
no more joyous festivals than the fifteenth of Ab 1 and
the Day of Atonement z ; for on them the daughters
of Jerusalem used to go forth in white garments
which were borrowed so as not to put to shame those
who had none. All the garments were required to
be purified ; and the daughters of Jerusalem went
forth and danced in the vineyards. And what were
they saying? Young man, lift up thine eyes, and
consider well whom thou wilt choose for thyself;
look not on beauty only, but on the family, for it is
Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain ;
A woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised ; 3
and it is also said,
Give her of the fruit of her hands :
And let her works praise her in the gates. 4
And so it says,
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon,
With the crown wherewith his mother hath crowned him
In the day of his espousals,
And in the day of the gladness of his heart. 5
" In the day of his espousals," an allusion to the
promulgation of the Torah : " And in the day of the
gladness of his heart," when the Temple was built.
May it speedily be rebuilt in our days, Amen !
1 The reasons given being that on that day the
tribes were allowed to intermarry (Num. xxxvi. 6) ;
members of the tribe of Benjamin were allowed
to intermarry with the other tribes (Judges xxi.
15); the last of those destined to die in the
desert died, and so God again spoke to Moses
(Deut. ii. 1 6, 17) ; the guards appointed by
Jeroboam were abolished by Hoshea b. Elah ;
permission was given to bury the dead after the
battle of Bethar ; wood for the altar ceased to be
cut on that day (Taan. 30$). The true explana-
tion is to be sought in the fact that on this day
all the people took part in the wood offering
(Meg. Taan. V.).
2 Because it is a day of forgiveness (cf. Pesikta
xxiv. ; Jer. Rosh Hash. 57^), and on that day
the second tables of the Law were said to have
been given to Moses, and on it the first Temple
3 Prov. xxxi. 30. 4 ib. xxxi. 31. 6 Cant. iii. II.
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